On a recent morning, Patricia Stoneking aimed her Glock model 23, .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun at a paper target inside the Bullet Hole shooting range in Overland Park, Kansas."That's how you do it," she said as she wound the maimed figure (two holes inches from its center), back into the firing area.
To Stoneking, who runs the Bullet Hole, owning firearms is not just a right but and obligation."People need to arm themselves," she told a reporter, and not just for protection against criminals. Stoneking, who also heads the Kansas State Rifle Association (KSRA), believes Americans must bear arms for protections against the government. "We have to put limits on our government, and that's what the [right to bear arms] does."
Stoneking and the KSRA are now supporting a ballot initiative that would give state residents a perpetual right to bear arms in the Kansas Constitution. It's a measure Stoneking says is absolutely necessary. Gun control advocates are calling it absolutely redundant. "The U.S. Supreme Court," said an exasperated Paul Helmke, "in two different decisions over the last two years has determined that the 2nd amendment is applicable to the states."
Helmke is from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and he says Stoneking already has a national constitutional right to bear arms that would trump anything an individual state could do. "This is completely ridiculous and unnecessary," he said.
Helmke also says he gets "nervous" when gun advocates "talk about taking up arms against the government." He explained, "When someone thinks that they, on their own, can decide that somehow the government is tyrannical and that they can start a revolution, start a civil war, then we're not following the process that our founding fathers set up."
Stoneking disagrees claiming that's exactly what the founding fathers intended. "They knew government could become tyrannical," she said. "We have the right to defend ourselves from a rogue government."
Kansas voters will decide on the measure November 2nd.